March 16th, 2011

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FROM PRINT TO EBOOK - THE MISSING LINK?



Clare: Happy March everyone! Welcome to another festive edition of The Clare and Chrissy Show.

Chrissy: No matter that we’re a week late...

Clare: Late? Late? *splutter* This is the first time since we started this feature that I've been even remotely on time...

Chrissy: Down girl! I didn't mean for our post, but for the event i.e. we’d like to extend our best wishes to the ubiquitous eBook and its 40th anniversary.

Clare: Ah. Right. Sorry.

Chrissy: And you know what that means, Confetti!!!!

Clare: Exactly.

Chrissy: Ha! Gotcha!

Clare: No! No! Wait, I was distracted … It’s March, I’m trying to keep up with all my authorly commitments…Nooooooooo…

Chrissy: Too late. *cackle* You have become one with the power of the confetti, and there’s no turning back now.

Clare: Gawd help me. With the celebration of Read an eBook week just behind us (March 6-12), it’s been hard to miss the plethora of articles in the news and across the web regarding the demise of the brick and mortar new bookstore. Borders Books passed away in the U.K. last year, and seems to be heading that way in the U.S. now as well, but they aren’t the only one.

Chrissy: And according to these same sources, eBooks seem to single handedly bear the brunt of blame. But did it really take forty years of slow and insidious eBook and eReader infiltration to strike this killing blow?

Clare: Or is there another factor to which we can point the blaming finger o’doom as the retail bookstore slowly disappears from our neighborhood malls and shopping centers?

Chrissy: Let’s grab our pith helmets and get ready for today’s topic: Clare and Chrissy go in search of The Missing Link a/k/a The Demise of the Retail New Bookstore.

Clare: Do I have to wear the helmet? Why do I go to all this trouble to get my hair done every month when I end up looking like I've been through a hedge backwards...?

Chrissy: Pfffffft.

Clare: Thanks, mate. Anyway, with or without helmets, we’ve investigated the subject and feel there's a definitely a link or two missing from the reported chain of cause and effect. One that’s been around a whole lot longer than eBooks and one closer than you might think. As a matter of fact, Chrissy…

Chrissy: Do I have to?

Clare: Darn right you do. *pokes* Stand up.

Chrissy: Fine.

Clare and Chrissy: Hi, we’re Clare and Chrissy, and we’re used book buyers.

Clare: There, was that so difficult?

Chrissy: You have no idea. Can I sit now?

Clare: It's rather curious that in all this bad press being banded about none of these articles ever mention the used book industry. Or the used book buyer. But can we really say this habit hasn't had an impact?

Chrissy: I can only speak from personal experience, but discounting eBooks and college textbooks that were unavailable used, I’ve only purchased (and yes, I did count them, there on my shelves) thirty-two actual new books in my lifetime.

Clare: And as my boys tell me, Mum, you ain’t no spring chicken. But, are you truly serious?

Chrissy: Even if I include books purchased online, brand spanking new, thirty-two is still the magic number.

Clare: *blinks* Blimey.

Chrissy: As an author it’s rather frightening. I now look around my living room and basement filled with bulging bookshelves, and I’m forced to realize that’s a lot of royalties the authors never received.

Clare: *Sigh* There goes my retirement.

Chrissy: Don’t get me wrong, I’m both a reader and a collector. A voracious one in fact. But my reading and buying habits involve checking out 25-30 books a shot from the library. Stopping by the flea market to pick up ten books for a dollar. Visiting Truman’s Comics and Used Books in all three of their locations and pawing through dusty boxes under the naughty magazine table.

Perhaps it’s learned behavior if you will, carried over into adulthood. Perhaps it’s my lone protest against the mass consumerism that plagues the U.S., but I’m not alone. There’s an entire counter-culture in cities nationwide. One of the first things I do every time I move to a new town is find the used bookstores.

Clare: We Brits have a word for that you know, *mutters* cheapskate. But, while not as dedicated, I too have always been a second-hand book buyer and seller :). Yes, I loves me my bargains! Plus I love some of the older covers and the sense of era inherent with some of the old classics.

Chrissy: There is an almost addicting high to the pursuit of a good bargain.

Clare: Exactly! I like tracking down a book that’s gone out of print. I like looking out the books I had from when I was child. I’m excited to inherit books that were my parents, or other, older family members. Oooh, and I love adventuring through bookstalls at that bastion of British Sunday mornings, the Mammoth Car Boot Sale!

Chrissy: Heh, that’s where the pith helmets come in handy.

Clare: The one book I will always buy new, and in hardback no less, is a new Lee Child release *hehe*. Otherwise, I rarely feel I *have* to have something immediately.

Chrissy: Though I have to admit there is something to be said for immediate gratification.

Clare: Well, quite a lot, actually *smirk*.

Chrissy: We're also encouraged to think about recycling, and saving the world's resources. Despite the layoffs throughout the printing industry (also partially blamed on eBooks), new books are still being printed galore.

Clare: So how do you think all this will translate to eBooks and the brave new world of DRM?

Chrissy: That's the million dollar question right now, isn't it? A lot will depend on how the eBook market continues to evolve. Even now libraries are working on how to make eBook lending feasible. Currently, the lower price of eBooks (and free Kindle downloads – score!) have kept me happily out of any bookstore, used or new. But while I’ve gone through three paperback copies of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, I can’t make myself pay the $12.00 it would cost digitally. Not when I can get another paperback for 0.75.

Clare: So, if you’re going to pay above a certain amount, you still want something you can hold in your hands?

Chrissy: Well, when you put it like that, LOL. But yes, I do believe that is a psychological aspect the newer generations won’t have to work through.

Clare: Do you purchase used books online?

Chrissy: Oh my, yes. I suspect we both remember the heady, early days of Half-Pricebooks.com, eBay, and a few others now buried beneath the heavy boot of the Amazon Marketplace once they started offering opportunities to used book resellers LOL. Actually, I do believe you’ve just identified another one of those under-reported missing links. Online used purchases.

Clare: Go me. Where'd I put that helmet?

Chrissy: The web world has revolutionized used book buying habits. The trick is to keep an eye out for the shipping costs. But when I find a desired book for 0.05 and $1.75 shipping, well, I’m a happy woman and I saved time and gasoline as well.

Clare: It comes back to one of our favorite topics, time management, doesn’t it? Just like everything else why go out, driving from bookstore to bookstore in search of something that's probably at the end of an online click - and often at a better price. Let someone else wear that bloody helmet *mutters again*.

Chrissy: Truth is, if I could replace every paperback and hardback I currently own in digital format at no cost, I would do it in a heartbeat. Just think how much easier moving house would be! The savings on my poor back!

Granted, I’m totally hosed when the zombie apocalypse arrives and I’m left with a full to bursting eReader, but no electricity to charge it. But, I’ll take the risk.

Clare: Yeah, right…um, Chrissy… you do realise there probably won’t *be* a zombie apocalypse?

Chrissy: *sniffs* That’s what you say now, you’ll be singing a different tune when they are munching on your tootsies.

Clare and Chrissy: So what do you think? Zombies or no, do you weep at Chrissy’s desire to give up paper books entirely? Do you share Clare’s love of bargain hunting at Car Boot Sales? Are we totally off base and do our used book habits remove us entirely from the equation as brick and mortar retailers never had our pounds (and dollars) in the first place? What do you think has brought about the retail downfall?

It’s your chance to shine. Share your thoughts and be entered in a random drawing with one lucky winner receiving some of our sparkly Clare and Chrissy Swag! Winner to be announced at our next, monthly post.



Don’t forget to join Clare at Goodreads, where she is March's featured author of the month.

And be sure to visit the both of us at Love Romances Yahoo Group on March 31st for an extra festive LIVE CHAT edition of The Clare and Chrissy Show.

February Winner: TAM cdn_tam - Congratulations! Please email Clare at clarelondon11@yahoo.co.uk with your choice of eBook download.

Interested to learn about eBook history, the 40th annual celebration and what’s ahead in the future? Stop by www.ebookweek.com for more information.

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